Who is Settlor, Trustee, and Beneficiary?

calendar22 Apr, 2020
timeReading Time: 8 Minutes
Settlor, Trustee and Beneficiary

At the very elementary level, the idea of the trust is when a person (i.e., Settlor) distributes assets in the legal supervision of another person ( i, .e.Trustee). Consequently, the trustee operates the assets for the benefit of any third party (i.e., Beneficiary). The trust is not separate legal existence, however more of a legal “obligation” accepted between the two parties – the ‘Settlor and the trustee.’ This arrangement gets outlined in formal documents, which is known as the Trust Deed.

The Settlor: The Settlor is the person who creates the trust by placing a particular asset that s/he owns into the trust, i.e., by transferring that asset to other person (trustee) along with clear instructions that the asset be held for the profit of a third party. The Settlor may be either an seperate or a legal entity.

Trustee: The trustee is the person who possesses the assets for the interest of the Beneficiary. While in complete charge of the ‘trust assets,’ the trustee is obliged a legal duty to manage the trust property in the best possible manner for the advantage of the Beneficiaries. The trustee is prevented from practicing the trust asset for his ends.

Beneficiary: The Beneficiary is third-party for whose benefit and earns of the trust asset is held and controlled by the trustee. The Beneficiary or beneficiaries may be either explicitly named in the ‘Trust Deed’ or maybe adequately defined group of persons. Even the Settlor of a trust may also be named as the Beneficiary.

Who is Settlor? – Basic Concept

The Settlor is the person who usually creates the trust by placing a particular asset of the trust that s/he owns into the trust. It is done by transferring that asset to other person (trustee) along with crystal clear instructions that the asset be held for the profit of a third party only. The basic concepts of a settlor are given below:-

  • Who Should Be a Settlor? 

Usually, any person 18 years of age or higher and sound mind has the essential legal potential to create a valid trust, although distinct state specifications vary.

  • What do you mean by a Settlor in a Trust Deed? 

A trust deed is a record that describes the trust’s terms and provisions and lists the parties concerned. In a trust deed, the Settlor is only the author/creator of the trust.

  • Is it possible to be a Settlor as well as a Trustee?

Yes, the Settlor of a trust can also be a trustee. A trust may also hold more than one settlor and added than one trustee. This is a joint arrangement, for instance, when married couples own a trust collectively.

  • Is it possible to be a Settlor as well as Beneficiary? 

A settlor can be a beneficiary of a trust but cannot be the single Beneficiary; otherwise, there would be no hope of having the trust in the first spot. Remember: the primary reason for possessing a trust is to hold the property for the interest of another party, so if there is no separate party, there’s simply no reason in having trust. 

  • What is the Functional Role of the Settlor?

The Settlor should hand over the resolved sum to the trustee to be held on the heads of the trust for the interest of the beneficiaries. The trustee must publish a receipt to register this has happened. This is the end at which the trust is created because of performing the trust deed and implementing the resolved sum:

  1. Settlor has put the trustee in the custody of trust assets;
  2. Settlor has established for the trustee which persons happen to be within the group of beneficiaries, as declared in the trust deed; and
  3.  trustee has consented to act.
  • Why should the Settlor’s performance be limited to placing the trust?
  1. He Has the power to withdraw or alter the trust to obtain a beneficial investment in the income acquired by the trustee, or take back trust assets; or
  2. The benefits of the trust are obligatory to the minor kids of the Settlor. 
  3. It is desirable to limit the Settlor’s role in trust to the primary establishment of the trust and amount of the rectified sum. To evade the observation that the Settlor’s expression of trust is revocable, the Settlor should be unrelated to the trustee and the ‘beneficiaries’ of the trust.
  • What can Settlor do when there is a Breach of Trust by the trustee:
  1. Remove the trustee from remarkable or all of his or her assigned services.
  2. Alter or deny any right or power that was given upon the trustee of the trust.
  3. Add extra responsibilities, constraints, or liabilities upon the trustee to those that are described by statute. When a trustee does not respond appropriately, it is necessary to take action quickly.

Read our article: What are Public and Private Temples under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882? Get All the Updates you need to know!

Who is Trustee – Basic Concept

  • Who can be a Trustee?

The Trustees can be the author, domestic members or associates, professionals such as accountants, attorneys, etc. a panel of banks or a Trust company, or any mixture of these people.

  • What do you mean by Successor Trustees?

If you are aiming only a solo Trustee, you’ll want to be assured to name at minimum one ‘Successor Trustee’. In case the chief trustee is not able to aid, the ‘Successor Trustee’ can footstep into the main role. If you are the only trustee, you’ll also want to tag a ‘Successor Trustee’ so that the trust can endure to be achieved after the author’s death. If you’re founding a ‘Revocable Trust,’ you will be likely term as the only trustee.

  • How to Select Trustees?

There are certain qualities, and those are:

  1. Considerable Attention to minute detail
  2. An appreciative of his or her responsibilities, and a pledge to take those responsibilities earnestly
  3. An understanding of capitals and perhaps financing, cost accounting, or law
  4. Good communication skills written as well as verbal
  5. Associated with author’s standards and values
  • What are the accountabilities of a Trustee?

The most significant thing to think of, when you step in as ‘trustee’ is that these are not your resources or money. You are preserving them for others: and those are for the grantor/author (if living) and for the beneficiaries, who will obtain them after the author dies. There are certain responsibilities that are-

  1. Trustee cannot blend trust assets with own. The trustee must keep distinct/separate checking accounts and reserves.
  2. Trustee cannot practice the trust assets for own benefit (without the trust permission).
  3. Trustee must behave trust beneficiaries the same; Trustee cannot support one over another without any prior notice.
  4. Trust assets must be devoted in a wise manner in a method that will result in practical growth with the least risk.
  5. Trustee is responsible for possessing accurate records, filing ‘tax returns,’ and writing to the beneficiaries as the trust involves.
  6. Trustee should Avoid Conflict of Interest. 
  7. Duty to Segregate Trust Property
  8. The trustee should enforce and Defend Claims. 
  9. The trustee should maintain Confidentiality. 
  • What a Trustee Do at incapacity?
  1. Supervises care of hard person
  2. Recognizes insurance aids and limitations
  3. Looks after maintenance of any minors and children
  4. Smears for disability welfares
  5. Puts organized team of consultants
  6. Informs bank and others
  7. Manages necessary business
  8. Keeps precise records and secretarial
  • What a Trustee Does At Death of the Author?
  1. Interacts attorney to analyze trust and procedure
  2. Keeps beneficiaries up-to-date
  3. Records assets, governs current values
  4. Varieties partial deliveries or distributions if needed
  5. Pays notices and does final accounting
  6. Distributes assets to beneficiaries as trust directs
  • What is the Difference between Executor and Trustee?
  1. The characteristics of ‘executors’ and ‘trustees’ are different, but they may be similar people. The role of a trustee of a will trust commences after the supervision period of the property. If assets in the domain are to be held on on-going ‘will’ trusts, the ‘executors’ pass those assets to the trustees of the ‘will’ trust, who then convert into the legal owners of the assets and maintain them following the terms of the will trust.
  2. It explains how a ‘will’ contains a trust referring to the ‘executors’ and later to ‘trustees.’ If the ‘will’ builds a trust of the whole estate or the ‘residuary estate,’ then the residuary estate is usually referred to as the ‘trust fund’ in the will. If the estate is simple and does not make anything more complicated, but if there are any complications or unusual features, or any of the assets cannot be distributed immediately, a trust is the best way of doing this. The trustees have more power to take care of the assets.
  • Why a new Trustee to be appointed?
  1. When any person designated as trustee rejects 
  2. When any trustee expires  
  3. When any trustee is far away from India for a consecutive period of 6 months or leaves India for living abroad 
  4. When any trustee is indicated an unbalanced insolvent
  5. When any trustee aspires to be released from the trust or refuses to act as trustee or accepts an inconsistent trust
  6. If any trustee, in the view of a court, becomes incapacitated or personally inadequate to act as a trustee
  • Can a Trustee give resignation?

A trustee cannot quit without the consent of the court unless the trust means so provides. Or except all of the beneficiaries who are judicially capable of doing so consent to the withdrawal. The court usually permits the trustee to quit if continuing to serve will be an excessive burden for the trustee, and the resignation will not be significantly harmful to the trust.

Who is the Beneficiary – Basic Concept

  • Who may be a beneficiary?
  1. According to trust law, Section-9 of the Indian Trust Act[1], “Every person competent of holding assets may be a beneficiary.” A purposed beneficiary may deny his interest under the trust by the disclaimer directed to the trustee. A beneficiary is a person who is designated to the benefit of any trust agreement. A beneficiary will generally be a ‘natural person,’ but it is entirely credible to have a firm as the Beneficiary of a trust. This often happens in modern commercial transaction compositions.
  2. A beneficiary can be a ‘minor’ or under a ‘mental injury.’ Even factually, many trusts are designed especially for persons with those legal disadvantages. It is also permissible to have trust for ‘unborn children,’ although the trusts must vest in the applicable eternity period.
  •  Why Choose a Beneficiary? 

There are many reasons for engaging a beneficiary to take your assets after the author dies.

1. To Obtain Clarity 

By appointing a beneficiary, you make it visible who should take your assets in the case of author death. 

2. To Speed up

Keeping a beneficiary also speeds up the method of distributing assets after the author’s death. It can be more durable and more comfortable to claim assets as a beneficiary, rather than to remain for the probate process to be performed.

  • What are the types of Beneficiaries?

a)  Primary Beneficiaries

Primary beneficiaries are the record owner’s first selection/vote for a beneficiary. In the case of death, the interests will go to the primary Beneficiary, if he/she is still living.

b)  Contingent Beneficiaries

  1. Contingent beneficiaries are utilized as a backup if there are no ‘primary living’ beneficiaries, or both cannot be found.
  2. If there is no ‘contingent beneficiary,’ or while none of the contingent beneficiaries requires the assets, then estate law dictates what appears to the assets.

c)   Minors as Beneficiaries 

If you’re operating to give money to minors, it’s even further important to articulate with an ‘estate planning attorney.’ Usually, children are not permitted to enter contracts and can’t lawfully own property, and consequently can’t own particular types of accounts. Nevertheless, there are ways to assure that money fits a minor where it is spent for their interest, including ‘pre-appointing’ a trustee.

d) Corporate Beneficiaries

In England, a trust of lands cannot be restricted to a corporation without a “license from the crown.” But considering the ‘Mortmain Acts’ do not connect to India, a company in India can/maybe a ‘beneficiary’ of the trust.

e)  Alien Beneficiaries

 An alien, too, maybe a beneficiary of the trust.

f) Settler or His wife as Beneficiaries

Trust Registration was connected to the goodness of the settler and his wife. Following the creation of the trust, the marriage was terminated, and the wife remarried. It was held by the court in that the wife relinquished the interests under the trust.


From the above discussions, it was evident that the state/government is not the owner of the natural reserves in the country but a trustee who operates a fiduciary relationship with the successes. By acquiring this task, the government is expected to be faithful to the affairs of its citizens. The ‘Indian Trusts Act 1882’ deals with all the elements related to trust, Settlor, trustee, and beneficiaries. According to section 10 of ‘Indian Trusts Act 1882’ says that “Every Person competent of holding property may be a trustee; but, wherever the trust includes the exercise of discretion, he cannot perform it unless he is satisfactory to contract.” Thus the trustee endures a fiduciary status also.

Read our article:Trust: Definition, Advantage, and Types

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